Ways to use social media on an author website
Last updated 01 June 2023
Written by Jin Wang
Last week we looked at the benefits of a professional WordPress website makeover. Let’s turn our attention to effectively using social media on an author’s website.
The benefits of social media for author and book marketing are well documented.
There’s the technical side of using social sharing to drive traffic to the long-form content on your website.
Then there are the human aspects:
- Building your author name as a brand, by connecting with readers
- Staying top of mind, or ‘mindshare’
- Connecting with and getting encouragement from your publishing industry peers
Connection and engagement are perhaps the greatest value of social media marketing. It’s your ability to build and engage with a community.
Where to put social media links on your website?
Let’s start with where and how to put links to your social media accounts on your website.
‘Utility navigation’ is what we call the cluster of links at the top right of a website. These links include login, sign up, search, and typically social media links. Visitors have become accustomed to finding them there. Take advantage of that.
The footer of your website on every page, and on your contact page, are two other places I recommend putting your buttons.
“WIIFM” What’s in it for me?
If you’re looking to take the social buttons a step further, try indicating what people can expect from following each of your accounts. Here’s an example:
- Twitter: Daily updates
- Facebook: News and events, writing tips
- Instagram: Photos from daily life
- Pinterest: Bookmarked resources and inspiration
Share buttons on blog posts
It’s rare that a visitor has the time to manually compose an email and share a link. Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to share your content. Consider placing social sharing buttons on your blog posts.
The primary function of a share button is offering a one-click way for people to share right when they’re thinking, “what a great article!”.
Although they were recently removed by Twitter, the other big social networks – Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn – still show the number of shares for your article.
‘Social proof’ on your website is the positive influence created when a visitor sees that others have shared your posts. In their mind, it elevates the value of the post. Social share counts tell visitors that other people like your post.
Showing your social timeline with widgets
Chances are that you’ve already got links to your social media on your site. Don’t just tell fans you’re on their social network of choice, show them.
Some authors have a hard time running a blog and keeping their website updated. They’re just more active on social media. If you fall into this category, don’t fret. If you share great content and frequently chat with followers and peers on Twitter, surface this on your website.
Get more out of the time you spend on social by including your Twitter timeline on your website. It can breathe life into your typically static website.
What are your options? Let’s start with the basics.
Facebook’s Page Plugin
If you’ve got an author page, you can embed and promote it on your website.
Your website visitors get a snapshot of your Facebook page: your profile and cover photos, friends, and a recent post.
Just like on Facebook, your website visitors can ‘like’ and share your page without having to leave your site.
Twitter Timeline Widget
Embedding a Twitter timeline widget on your website will display your latest Tweets ordered from newest to oldest.
The timeline includes a Follow button in the header to encourage new followers and a mention web intent footer to encourage new conversations specific to your Twitter account.
I see that many authors place their Twitter timeline and Facebook Page Plugin in the sidebar.
I find it gets a little cramped in the sidebar, and the tweets are hard to read.
Break from the mould and display your Twitter timeline or Facebook Page Plugin prominently on your home page.
If you value your social media profiles, give them a space of their own.
Custom styled feeds
The problem with default widgets though is they all look the same – small and a bit cramped. Ugly basically.
Using the default Twitter timeline says, ‘look, I installed a one-click widget in my sidebar’. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you stick with the standard, visitors will gloss over and develop ‘content blindness’. With each new generation of authors with their web-savvy skill set, it’s going to take more to stand out.
Your Twitter timeline can be easily styled to match the visual language of your site and brand.
We did exactly this recently for adult fiction author Amanda Ortlepp.
Do you need any kind of special website to get a custom-styled feed? Nope, we can create a custom feed, regardless of how your current is built.
Instagram feed for photos
Authors are slowly taking to Instagram. The fourth ‘P’ of an effective Marketing Mix is ‘Place’. This is knowing where your readers and peers ‘hang out’ online, to determine where to distribute your message. If you’ve got a millennial audience, it’s definitely Instagram.
Here’s an Instagram WordPress plugin to get your latest Insta posts on your author website.
Here’s a bonus idea
While I was setting up a custom Instagram feed for author and illustrator Gabrielle Wang (above), I had a thought. Why not show her latest Instagram post image as the header/banner background on the home page?
Are you an illustrator?
This would be perfect as you likely produce new drawings daily. Your site would have a new banner/look each time you posted to Instagram.
Interested in this on your site? Contact me (Jin), here.
Also like that publishers now value Twitter reviews as much as newspaper ones… pic.twitter.com/qGNDYD0eC9— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) January 1, 2016
In the same way you can embed a timeline of your latest Tweets, you can also embed just a single Tweet.
Embedding single Tweets is often used when displaying endorsements from influential figures. You’ve probably also seen it in news reports.
British novelist Matt Haig called attention to how publishers are now starting to value Twitter comments as much as newspaper reviews.
You could do the same on your website by embedding the single Tweets of praise.
As you can see here, Tristan Bancks is all over it.
I don’t view social media as a sales tool. Nor my readers as customers. I’m not here to sell books. I’m here to have fun and to learn. YMMV.— Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm) September 14, 2015
Tweets also capture your comments in time, give them them context, and show engagement.
Use single Tweets to make a statement.
If you want to embed a single Tweet, just click the ellipsis icon at the bottom of any Tweet. You can also embed single Instagram posts the same way.
Or, there’s nothing stopping you from just copying the content and pasting it as regular text. The benefit of an embed though is it’s dynamic – it automatically updates with extra likes, and links are clickable.
- Put links to your social media profiles in the top right of your site where people are expecting them
- Add share buttons to posts for better content distribution
- ‘WIIFM’ What should people expect from following your social profiles
- Add your social timeline to your site, to show you’re active
- Get a custom-styled timeline for a uniform branded experience for your social media and author website
- Bonus idea: Use my concept of showing your most recent Instagram post as your website banner image
- Embed single social posts to show endorsements of your books from influential people
Incorporating social on your site can be as simple as a few clicks when using the free plugins and widgets available. It’s a great place to start integrating your author website with your social media profiles.
But to create a standout experience for your readers, that gets the most out of the time you put into social media, you may need professional help. Lucky for you, it’s close at hand.
Got a question about social media and your author website? Pop it in the comments below.
How to optimise your blog posts for better social sharing?
Coming up, I’ll be writing an article on how to optimise your blog posts for better social sharing, to get you more incoming author website traffic.
So you don’t miss that one, subscribe to my email tips.